What Size Surface Cleaner Do I Need?

Surface cleaners can be very useful for washing flat exterior surfaces. This device easily connects to the end of most pressure washers and helps create an even finish without ugly streaks. But what size surface cleaner do I need?

Picking the best size surface cleaner comes down to GPM. You need to figure out the GPM of your specific pressure washer, so the surface cleaner can operate efficiently. Let’s take a more detailed look into how GPM relates to cleaning power.

When to Use a Surface Cleaner

You should never have the same approach when it comes to pressure washing. The simple fact is that all surfaces will be different. Wood, brick, and asphalt are just some material types you can clean.

But washing the side of a house is much different from cleaning a patio. If you use the wrong nozzle attachment it can actually make whatever you’re cleaning look worse. If you were to use a pressure washer on a sidewalk for example, it would leave ugly streaks and lines.

That’s where a surface cleaner can come in handy. It works by spraying water in a consistent circular motion that creates an even clean. It’s powerful enough to remove stubborn layers of dirt without leaving behind marks that would normally develop with a pressure washer wand.

Understanding Pressure Washer GPM

GPM (gallons per minute) refers to the amount of water dispersing from the machine when in use. A higher GPM will be faster at rinsing a surface, because it can spray more water as a result.

But this efficient rinsing capability comes at a cost. You will need to keep an eye on your water source when using the machine for an extended period of time. Most pressure washers will have a range of GPM between 2 and 5.

What Size Surface Cleaner Do I need?

There’s an easy calculation to find out what size surface cleaner you need. All you need to do is multiply 4.5 by the GPM of your machine. This final number will represent the size (in inches) surface cleaner that will work best.

A common belief in the pressure washing community is that the diameter should be around 4.5 inches per GPM. If you have a pressure washer with a 2.0 GPM, a 9 inch surface cleaner will work (4.5 x 2.0 GPM = 9).

Don’t obsess too much over this number, because a 10 inch surface cleaner will work just as well. Problems arise when you use an attachment far over this limit. A 20 inch surface cleaner will not deliver the power you need on a 2.0 GPM machine.

Surface Cleaning Tips

There’s more to using a surface cleaner than pushing it around your patio. It’s important to take your time in order to create the best results possible. Try some of these surface cleaning tips below for the most efficient washing method.

Clear Off Debris

Before you can even begin the surface cleaning process, it’s important to remove any debris first. Sweep off any leaves, rocks, sticks, and surface dirt. You can either use a long handle broom (to save your back from bending over) or a leaf blower.

It’s critical to get the surface clean of debris so you can avoid causing damage to the surface cleaner. It doesn’t matter if you’re working on a driveway, sidewalk, or patio. Small rocks and other contaminants can potentially damage the surface cleaner if not removed beforehand.

Start at the Bottom

You’re going to be using a lot of water when running a pressure washer. That means you need to be smart when it comes time to clean. When washing flat areas with a surface cleaner you should always start at the bottom and work your way up.

You will soon notice that water will begin to puddle in some places. If you were to start at the top first, gravity would push water down to these lower areas. Avoid this headache by starting at the lowest section of your patio and moving up to higher sections later.

Take Your Time

A surface cleaner is a great tool if you want to avoid creating ugly streaks and lines. But that doesn’t mean it’s perfect and you need to understand how to use it, in order to create the best results. If you want a flawless finish, make sure to take your time during the washing process.

Begin by focusing on small sections of the ground at a time. Follow horizontal and vertical motions so that you can clean the entire surface area. Repeat this process on each section and continue washing in overlapping motions, so that you don’t miss any areas.

Wear Proper Clothing

Any time you’re working with a pressure washer it’s crucial to wear the right clothing. These are very powerful machines, which is why you should wear boots, pants, and a long sleeve shirt. This will prevent high amounts of water pressure from cutting your skin.

You should also consider wearing safety goggles to protect your eyes. Even when using a surface cleaner there is the potential for spray back. Any small objects on the surface can also shoot out as well. Safety goggles will offer protection and prevent airborne contaminants from landing on your eyes.

Final Thoughts

This article began with a question: what size surface cleaner do I need? The answer really depends on the GPM of your specific machine. Follow the above formula explained above and multiply the GPM by 4.5.

This number will give you a general number in inches of what size surface cleaner will work best for you. The most important thing to remember is that you don’t want a large size if you have a low GPM machine.

Doing something like this will give you low amounts of water pressure and the cleaning ability won’t be as efficient. You want to find the sweet spot where the surface cleaner produces professional and even looking results.

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